Next year could be a big one for foldable phones. Alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and possibly imminent Google Pixel Fold, it now turns out that Lenovo is looking to come back with a third generation of the Motorola Razr.
Word of the company’s plans for a Motorola Razr 3 comes directly from Lenovo Business group general manager Chen Jin, who made the announcement via Chinese social network Weibo (opens in new tab). “I think innovation is always the driving force of the industry,” a machine translated version of the text reads, before announcing the “third-generation razr folding screen mobile phone.”
It will, according to the slightly clunky translation, feature “more advanced chip computing power,” a “better man-machine interface” and a “more atmospheric appearance.” No release date or price listed was mentioned, but Chen Jin did reveal that the phone will be for the Chinese market at first.
Should Samsung be worried about a rival foldable flip phone?
If the past two Motorola Razr foldables are a blueprint for the new model, then this will be a rival for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 rather than the company’s 2-in-1 tablet/phone hybrid.
Should Samsung be concerned? That very much depends on whether Motorola’s parent company Lenovo has learned the lessons from the two previous Razr handsets, which failed to make much of an impact.
For my money, that limited impact came down to two very obvious drawbacks. The first was price: the original Moto Razr launched at an eye watering $1,500, and this was only marginally improved for the Moto Razr 5G which received a $100 discount.
That in and of itself isn’t a problem, as foldables are notoriously expensive. The trouble was my second issue with the phone: that Motorola scrimped on the internals for both. The original packed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, which could be found in phones costing around 300 bucks. The 5G follow up improved things slightly with a Snapdragon 765G SoC, but that’s still the same chip found in the $449 Pixel 5a.
Samsung’s foldables were similarly expensive, but at least featured up-to-date internals. The first-generation Z Flip cost $1,380 but packed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus SoC, for example: the same chip the company used in its only recently superseded Galaxy S10 handsets.
It would be pretty trivial for Motorola to match that, chip shortages notwithstanding, and the translated text makes it seem like the company intends to make improvements there.
But spec bumps cost money, and it will take a serious price cut for even an advanced Moto Razr 3 to compete, given Samsung has aggressively slashed the price of its foldables so much. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 managed to sell at that psychologically sub-$1,000 price point, after all.
So, can the Motorola Razr 3 be a serious contender? It has an uphill struggle on its hands, but we’ll have to wait and see if the improvements are as positive as Chen Jin seems to think before we reach a more informed verdict. For now, color me skeptical.